How we view God matters. Our perspective of Him, our impressions, our understanding, it guides our actions, our choices, even how we interpret the Holy Scriptures. It's important that we try to get the best picture of God we can so that we don't carry these distorted, cloudy images with us. The God we show to other people needs to be one of "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23.
Do we have in our mind a God that only cares about rules and doesn't care about you? Some people thought that the rules were more important than the people the rules applied to. But Jesus illustrates the point perfectly in Matthew 12:11-12.
Jesus describes a situation where there are two competing goals. Often in life we can face a similar conundrum. We want to be meeting together, worshiping together, singing and speaking to one another but at the same time the more we are around one another the more risk we are asking others to accept. We want to be a loving and caring people that place others' needs before our own. We want to follow God's will and His commands and the teaching of the Bible. But somehow, these two goals seem to clash with one another.
Jesus tell us in Matthew 12:11-12 that if we are faced with a choice of letting only a mere sheep lose its life in favor of us keeping a commandment, he would rather the sheep live. He goes on to ask, "How much more valuable is a person than a sheep?" A lot!
Therefore, if we have a God in our mind that has a greater desire for us to comply with the rule-keeping of meeting together even in the face of the potential loss of life -- I would ask is that really the God as He has revealed Himself to us in His word and His Son?
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Timothy 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
God knows you, chose you, loves you, restores you, sustains you, helps you, rescues you, and shields you from the evil one. Jesus tells the people of his day plainly, "it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:12). Remember, this was at a time when everyone in the audience would have let a sheep die to avoid breaking the Sabbath law.
Jesus challenges them and challenges us: is the image of God we bear in our hearts and to others, true?